Star Wars Battlefront 2 Deaf/HoH Accessibility
Star Wars Battlefront 2 is not impossible for Deaf/Hoh players by any means but any Deaf/HoH players looking to engage with the single-player narrative may feel left out.
Score5.6 out of 10
Star Wars Battlefront 2 was released in 2017 and is currently free for PS Plus members. While I do not love Star Wars or multiplayer games, I do enjoy a good shooter and was immediately excited to give the single-player campaign a whirl.
The game’s single-player campaign follows Iden Versio, the commander of Inferno Squad, a group of elite Imperial soldiers working for the Empire. Following the Empire’s defeat on Hoth, she takes it upon herself to continue its mission. Iden is a complicated and memorable character that stands out throughout this campaign. Janina Gavankar’s acting is top-notch. The team at EA beautifully animated her with a lot of focus on her facial expressions.
Despite the beauty of the game and the compelling narrative that adds to Star Wars’ overall lore, the game is not without its flaws in regards to Deaf/Hoh accessibility. Star Wars Battlefront 2 has subtitles that are automatically turned on. However, they are so small it is hard to see them, especially in the midst of combat, and while you are attempting to be stealthy.
The subtitles do offer speaker titles when a new person begins to speak but they are not consistently displayed. That means if you missed the first sentence of a new character’s line of dialogue including the speaker’s name, it becomes unclear who they are when new subtitles emerge on screen without the speaker’s name. Coupled with the tiny font size, this is a big issue that makes it very difficult to follow the story.
There’s also a lack of subtitles for background dialogue which makes the single-player campaign’s story and understanding of the scenes difficult to follow. Because of this, it’s easy for players like myself to miss a lot of the world-building that makes Star Wars so beloved.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 does not offer full-captioning but it does have a lot of visual cues that work alerting players of enemy locations and informing them of objective points. There are other visual cues that detail how aware the enemy is of your presence. The objective markers are easy enough to follow, which is saying something since I have a notoriously bad sense of direction and always manage to get lost in games.
The HUD is a great tool that makes getting lost in the heat of action a little less difficult, and considering how bad my sense of direction is, this is very important for me. Health bars and cooldown bars, both for your blaster and special attacks, are easy to see and discern.
The controller also vibrates but when it did vibrate I feel like it wasn’t entirely clear what the game was trying to tell me.
As solid as the gameplay is on the ground levels, the flying missions made for a difficult experience and was nearly impossible for me to play. My loss of hearing is directed correlated to my vestibular migraines. I get headaches daily and while they do not feel like a traditional headache, it means I live with a constant ringing in my ears. I have difficulty distinguishing where sounds are coming from and also suffer symptoms similar to that of vertigo. As my migraines get worse, so does my hearing.
The flying missions in Star Wars Battlefront 2 felt incredibly disorienting and immediately triggered my migraines. The more and more I failed at the missions, the more frustrated I became.
This wasn’t just because the flying was difficult for me but also because my hearing got worse and worse, meaning I was forced to rely on subtitles that were far too tiny. Vestibular migraines only occur in about 1 percent of the population so my experience is very specific. However, having migraines and being Deaf/Hoh are common issues.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 is not impossible for Deaf/Hoh players by any means but any Deaf/HoH players looking to engage with the single-player narrative may feel left out. Star Wars is a franchise defined by its engrossing storytelling so seeing this game make it so difficult to follow along is frustrating.
That being said, EA has clearly made strides in the right direction and continues to do so, which is especially seen with Respawn Entertainment’s Jedi Fallen Order from 2019.